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2020 Student Admissions: Questions and Answers

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Page updated 4 May

Questions and answers related to the universities’ decisions regarding student admissions that have been published as of 30 April

What types of arrangements will be used in the entrance examinations in different fields of education?

Traditional entrance examinations have been replaced by different types of electronic and remote examinations, and in many cases, by two-stage entrance examinations, oral examinations, assignments for submission and a more extensive use of certificate-based admissions.

Each field has adopted the solutions that best meet its needs, take into account the viewpoint of the applicant and ensure that admission is possible for all eligible applicants. The changes made are such as are deemed to have a minimal effect on the outcome of the admissions procedure.

How have certificate-based admissions changed? 

As the universities decide the admissions criteria (Universities Act 558/2009, section 36), different universities may have different intake quotas regarding, for example, certificate-based admissions. As for joint admissions procedures, the aim will be to keep the same quotas per admission group. The changes in the certificate-based admissions apply mainly to the quota size or to the minimum grade requirements, for example. The conversion table for test points will remain the same.

When will the entrance examinations take place?

The universities are holding over 200 entrance examinations in the joint application procedure this spring. The schedule for the examinations has been planned by the universities jointly insofar as possible under the current conditions. At this stage, slight changes may still occur in the schedules. Information about the entrance examinations for each study option is available on the university and joint application procedures webpages and on the Studyinfo portal.

There is a second stage in my admissions process. When and where will it be held?

If a university has not as of 30 April provided information about the date and form of the second stage of the entrance examination, the applicant should await further information and follow the webpage for the study option as well as the Studyinfo portal. Applicants are also urged to verify that the email address indicated for them on the Studyinfo portal is still valid.

Will the entrance examinations still be held on the university campuses?

The universities have already indicated their policy of holding some entrance examinations on campus if the number of examinees in the examination room is small. This may apply to examinations with many examinees if the total number taking the exam can be divided into groups with a small number per exam location. In practice, this means that restricting the number of participants in large entrance exams – whether held remotely or divided into smaller groups in physical on-site location – necessitates eliminating their number by holding a two-stage examination. The universities will consider this on a case-by-case basis.

‘The changes made to the admissions criteria, such as reducing the number of those invited for the entrance examinations and introducing two-stage admissions procedures, have allowed universities to reduce the number of people invited to entrance examinations on campus to a fraction of the usual number. Universities prepare for the on-site examinations with strict security arrangements in collaboration with a host of experts, such as the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL)’, Suomala clarifies.

How will online entrance examinations be monitored (invigilated)?

A variety of technical means will be employed to invigilate the entrance examinations. The universities verify the identity and competence level of applicants during the admissions process. This ensures the equal treatment of applicants and the fairness of admissions.

Applicants shall be reminded that cheating will result in forfeiture of the right to study and possibly to criminal legal proceedings in the event of gross academic misconduct.

How will the safety of coronavirus high-risk groups be taken into account in entrance examinations requiring physical attendance?

The universities prepare for on-site examinations with strict security arrangements in collaboration with a host of experts, such as the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), and follow the recommendations of the Finnish government for assessing the holding of examinations. Belonging to a high-risk group are not grounds for taking the examination in a separate space or for making other special arrangements. The universities strive to prevent the spread of infection for all applicants in the same way, by ensuring good hygiene and making arrangements that allow adequate physical distance between the participants in the examination.

Can an entrance examination requiring physical attendance be taken by one who is sick or in quarantine?

Entrance examinations may not be taken by applicants who are sick or in quarantine. If an applicant falls ill during the examination, his or her examination may be suspended. All examination participants must themselves ensure that their own actions do not put others at risk.

Do applicants need to have their own computer and internet connection?

As with matriculation examinations, applicants are required to have available the technical means needed to sit the entrance examination. The universities do not provide applicants with the devices or connections needed for taking examinations online. Applicants should carefully read the instructions for the entrance examination for any hardware requirements. As the purpose of holding entrance examinations remotely is to avoid the use of shared spaces, applicants may not come to campus to take the exam.

Are the individual entrance examination arrangements I applied for previously still in force?

If you already applied for individual arrangements (for dyslexia, for example), your application and the decision on it will still be valid for the new admissions criteria. Specially arranged extended time, however, will be adjusted to be proportionate to the duration of the new examination. More information is available from the universities to which you are seeking admission.

If the changed entrance examination arrangements create new kinds of needs for individual arrangements, please contact the universities to which you are seeking admission immediately.

As for digital examinations, applicants are themselves responsible for obtaining the use of a computer and making individual arrangements.

What should applicants do now?

The applicant should carefully read the admissions criteria for his or her study option. The criteria are available on the Studyinfo portal and on the websites of the universities and organisers of joint admissions. Applicants must also read carefully the instructions given for their study option. Applicants who have questions should contact the university admissions services.

It is important that applicants keep preparing for the admissions and take care of their wellbeing. Although the practicalities of student admissions have changed, the content knowledge required of the applicants will remain unchanged.

Questions and answers published earlier (9 April)

What have the universities decided concerning the spring 2020 admissions?

The universities have concluded that, due to the coronavirus situation, organising traditional entrance examinations is not possible without compromising the safety of those involved. In line with the authorities’ instructions to avoid physical contact, the Finnish universities’ vice presidents for education have decided that the entrance exams in the spring and summer of 2020 will be organised using alternative means.  The applicants will be informed of the new admissions procedures by the end of April.

What types of alternative admissions procedures may be used?

We are currently looking into the options available for alternative admissions procedures. Each field of education will find the most suitable solutions that take into account the special features of the field, the students’ viewpoint and the equal opportunities for all eligible applicants to gain admission. Alternative means may also take the form of digital admissions procedures or online courses, or a more extensive use of certificate-based admission or the open university route. In addition, small-scale entrance examinations may be organised taking careful precautions.

What are small-scale entrance examinations?

We cannot give a clear-cut definition for it, as it is something that the universities will decide on a case-by-case basis. The physical spaces for small-scale entrance examinations will be arranged in compliance with the guidelines and policies of the Government. Attempts will be made to ensure the health of the examination participants and invigilators with the help of spatial arrangements and good hygiene.

Why was the decision to not organise traditional entrance examinations made only now? Why were the applicants not informed of the changes before the application period for the joint application procedure ended?

The universities made every attempt to find a way to organise student admissions in the manner announced earlier to the applicants. The final decision was made as soon as it was possible. Making changes to the entrance examinations was not an easy decision to make. It causes uncertainty among the applicants, which is why the universities could not take the decision lightly but needed to assess the situation thoroughly. It has now become evident to the universities that there is no way to guarantee the safety of the examination participants and invigilators under these circumstances.

Why can you not postpone the examinations until July-August or September and start the new academic year in January?

It is impossible to know what the coronavirus situation will look like at the end of the summer or next autumn. It may well be that organising traditional entrance examinations continues to be impossible in the autumn, too, which is why the universities cannot count on that option, either.

Postponing the start of the academic year would be a problematic solution with significant social repercussions. Most students will be selected using certificate-based admission in accordance with the original schedule. The universities want to ensure that beginning studies next autumn is possible also for those selected by other means.

Why not organise entrance examinations as remote online exams?

The universities do not have a system for organising all entrance examinations as remote exams, and there is no way to develop a secure system for that within the time available. The universities can, however, use digital admissions procedures at their discretion, provided that such solutions are workable for the admissions procedure as a whole.

Is the current solution lawful and equal for all applicants?

These highly exceptional conditions require us to make changes that would not be made under normal circumstances.

The alternative admissions procedures will take into consideration the applicants’ viewpoint and safeguard the equal opportunities for all eligible applicants to gain admission. The overall goal is to carry out student admissions so that the changes have minimal effects on the admissions results. There are legal counsels specialised in academic affairs involved in making the preparations for the changes; questions of equality and lawfulness are scrutinised at all stages of the decision-making.


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